FIONA XIE has verbally tendered her resignation, according to a good friend.
The local actress' pal, who declined to be named, told Shin Min Daily News that Fiona has yet to discuss her resignation terms with MediaCorp and that is why the news has not been made official.
She told Shin Min: 'Fiona was unhappy because she felt that the company had tried to portray her with a negative image.
'Even though she was offered the second female lead role in (upcoming Channel 8 blockbuster drama) Together, it was a 'bad girl' role.'
Fiona, 27, was to play a materialistic woman who comes between the lead characters, played by Jeanette Aw and Dai Yangtian.
She had initially accepted the role in the series and even had her imaging - where artists finalise the hair, clothes and make-up for their character - done.
Local actress Eelyn Kok has since replaced her in the TV drama.
Fiona entered the local showbiz scene eight years ago and charmed viewers with her good looks and gregarious personality in Channel 8 dramas such as The Champion and Just In Singapore. Her first lead role was as the lovable Genie 0385985 in the sitcom "My Genie" from 2001 to 2003.
She was later identified as one of the up and coming young actresses, together with Joanne Peh, Jeanette Aw, Jesseca Liu, Felicia Chin, Rui En and Dawn Yeoh. They were dubbed 'Seven Princesses', a tag which has stuck since then.
When contacted about Fiona's apparent resignation, a MediaCorp spokesman told The New Paper: 'It is not our (MediaCorp's) policy to comment on speculation.'
Mr Paul Chan, Channel 8's vice-president of branding and promotions who's famed for his candid discussions of Channel 8 artists on his Bagua TV Blog, said he had no idea if Fiona had given notice. He refused comment on whether this news had come as a surprise to him.
Fiona's good friend, celebrity hairstylist David Gan, reportedly told Shin Min on Wednesday that he knew that Fiona was going to quit two weeks ago.
But when contacted yesterday, he claimed that he didn't know anything about her supposed resignation. Yet, he offered a few reasons that could have pushed the actress to leave. One is what he calls the strict 'disciplinary code' affecting local artists.
David said Fiona often felt stifled as an artist and longed for freedom of creativity in her work. Freedom of speech, job-wise, was also a luxury that she didn't have, as she was often criticised by her management when she spoke her mind.
Then there's the question of money. David believes she may have decided to seek greener pastures abroad where artists are generally paid higher salaries. While other local artists would also likely face the same problems, David pointed out that Fiona deserves more.
'There are so few local actresses that have the natural X-factor, and Fiona is one of them. She looks like a star, she is a star. It's definitely our loss.'
News of Fiona's resignation will come as no surprise to many if reports of her recent 'disappearance' are anything to go by. The New Paper had reported two months ago that her friends and colleagues like Elvin Ng and Adrian Pang were all puzzled about her sudden disappearance and clueless as to her whereabouts.
In July, after dropping out of Together, Fiona's manager told The New Paper that she had gone abroad to attend to some personal matters. There was speculation that she was having personal problems and had fled to an unknown destination because of 'boyfriend trouble'.
That month, however, someone claimed to have seen her shopping at Bugis and alerted the media, but the actress remained uncontactable to this day.
Her manager said yesterday Fiona had recently completed the filming for variety show Singapore Flavours in Japan and San Francisco.
The Channel 8 series features Fiona and other celebrities such as Mark Lee, Chen Hanwei and Dennis Chew, showcasing local food overseas. It is slated for telecast next month.
Fiona's manager declined to comment on whether the actress had verbally resigned or if she had indicated any such intent previously.
So is she back in Singapore? No, said her manager who also declined to reveal her current whereabouts.
Attempts to contact Fiona were unsuccessful as her phone was turned off.
Dennis said that he didn't get a chance to meet her as the four hosts for Singapore Flavours had to travel to different locations for filming.
But he revealed that the programme's director had told him that when Fiona was in Tokyo and San Francisco, she would retire to her hotel room every day after filming and spend the rest of the evening alone.
Said Dennis, who had to film in Beijing and Bangkok: 'I love Fiona, she's a wonderful person. She's more of the independent, mature sort of girl than a loner.'I had no idea that she was going to resign, but if it's true, I will miss her.'
Source: The Electic New Paper